In the Aerospace industry Foreign Object Damage (FOD) can cause major disasters if left uncontrolled. AS9110 requires that damage from foreign objects be controlled during the delivery of aviation maintenance services. Further guidance on FOD programs is provided by AS9146. The standard is developed by IAQG and benchmarks the best practices by the aerospace industry including addressing the flow down of requirements to suppliers.

So what is a Foreign object? As defined by AS9100 and AS 9146 is it a foreign article (e.g., tools, personal items, environmental debris) that could, if not removed and/or controlled, potentially pose a sever hazard to product safety. In today’s connected world the cause for distractions are many and the need for a strict FOD program even more essential. While AS9110 requires a FOD program to be implemented, AS9146 gives guidance on the eight elements that make up a FOD prevention program. These include program management, operations, training of personnel, housekeeping, and accountability of tools, among others.

FOD programs are not static but are dynamic within a working environment. There needs to be a level of awareness among personnel, so they are pro-active in preventing FOD before it occurs. FOD programs essentially also follow the PDCA cycle for continual improvement. The success of FOD programs start with a committed leadership. They must require a FOD program to be developed, implemented, maintained and monitored with all non-conformities being formally addressed through a corrective action process. For an effective FOD program a risk assessment needs to be conducted. An FMEA may be conducted to identify the potential entry points for foreign objects into the maintenance process and controls be implemented per clause 8 of AS9110.

Controls may include prevention of potential foreign object at entry points. Such as personnel emptying their pockets prior entering the maintenance floor, a tool accounting system to ensure that all tools have been identified and controlled, a rigorous inspection program to ensure that the work has been done according to the instructions and customer requirements, as also a strict configurations management program for identification and traceability of all parts. Just as for quality and safety FOD awareness programs will need to be conducted at regular intervals as also FOD awareness driven through posters and other methods.

FOD is serious in the aviation industry and must be given the importance it deserves. Objects as small as screws have caused flights to come down. Failure of O-rings have caused space shuttles to explode. Leadership and all personnel must be committed to the access of the program and reliaze the potential areas from which FOD may occur.